Thursday, January 31, 2008
Sheep like to rest with their faces into the wind. I've always presumed this to be a defensive behaviour - so they can smell predators approaching.
Maybe its just a 'driving a convertible with the top down' thing.
Regardless, I was surprised to see them facing the wind yesterday. The storm was so relentless that the cops closed down my whole county, and adjacent counties. The house and the wool shack both sounded like locomotive were roaring through.
Even more surprising, the flock didn't take shelter in the barn, which I opened to them.
For my part - I DEFINITELY took shelter! And even Jesse had no interest in playing outside yesterday!
On the sock machine
I decided to knit a few more pair of Valentine Motif socks, using my own 100% lambs wool, sport weight. I did some in the same colourway as my proto type a few weeks ago, and then put a different twist on a pair by substituting 2 tones of Slate Blue-Grey for the tones of Lilac, and keeping the 3 tones of Raspberry Sorbet the same.
I've got the Fricke Skein Winder set in place and have started winding up some 75/25 wool/nylon sock yarn, ready for the next painting project.
This is quite a dandy winder. I might want a shorter table to set it on - you can't see it in the photo, but there is a counter mounted on the top of the vertical mast - its obscured by the wool.
At that height, on that table, its difficult to read the counter - if I bend in to see it, part of my anatomy gets clipped by the reel! Not that I'm concerned about my anatomy - I just don't want to break the machine ;o)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
If I had pigs,
today they would fly. (Logo c Flying Pig Brewing Co, Everett WA).
I've never seen so many warnings in one weather report: Flash Freeze Warning; Damaging Winds Warning; Snow Squall Warning.
The Temperature AND the Visibility are both below zero!
A good day to make socks....
The beads are, maybe, too close in colour to the yarn - they almost disappear. We'll call this pair subtly jazzy ;o)
And here is another beaded pair. I made these from the yarn leftover from a full legged medium pair of Seacoast Handpainted Yarns, colour Tequila Sunrise, 100% superwash merino, 560 yds/4 oz.
The beads are pale amethyst Miracle Beads, and the heels and toes are reinforced with pink wooly nylon.
I suppose ....
I should think about buying some more Noro Kureyon sock yarn.
I did say, 'when pigs fly...'
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Jesse won the argument, and we went for a hike out back.
A long hike.
In the end, Jesse wished we'd had a nap instead. So we did. I won.
The deer bolted as soon as I clicked the picture.
(So - less work to snow shoe down the steep side, and up the gentle side!)
It's 0.8 miles from the front of the farm to the back. With the side trips we made, following tracks, we did about 3 miles.
It was fairly warm so the snow was quite wet/heavy. So Jesse and I were both pretty bagged.
And at the sock machine:
Here, I've set up the 54 cylinder to make beaded socks with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, and some fucia Miracle Beads.
Working in a 2:1 mock rib, I pico a row hanging the right stitch of each pair onto its neighbour stitch in the pair, on its left. Then after one row I hang the beads on the new 'blank' stitch. So I've got 18 beads per sock.
After inserting the beads, I knit as many rows AFTER the beads as I knit BEFORE the beads. Then when I hang the hem, the beads will be at the top edge of the sock.
Here the hem is partly hung . (The white yarn is the scrap yarn used to set up the knitting.)
Now I have to move the yarn carrier forward so I can finish hanging the hem.
You can see how the beads are forming the top edge of the sock.
Monday, January 28, 2008
The sock machines were idle this weekend. The sun was out and the Soxophone Player put on his skis and hit the slopes with N1S, Di-L, GK2,
I knit a few re-runs this morning, and should knit some more this afternoon.
Or have a nap.
But Jesse, who already had a nap, is whimpering that the sun is out again, and its supposed to rain tomorrow, so maybe we should go snow shoeing instead of knitting more socks.
Or have a nap.
A new load of beads has arrived!
The larger bags on the top are wood beads, and the smaller packs at the bottom are 'miracle beads'. 25 miracle beads cost almost as much as 1000 wood beads. What's the miracle in that!
I'll have to ponder that question.
Or have a nap.....
Friday, January 25, 2008
Another fresh snowfall at the farm.
A great thing about fresh snow is you can see who or what has been visiting you. If you click the above photo to large maybe you can see the tracks that follow the tree line in the distant field. And the tracks that cut straight through the mid field.
Right away that tells me - wild, not domesticated. Animals that hunt for their own food supply are very efficient walkers - they don't waste steps which would also waste energy. If they are going from A to B, it's in a straight line.
Jesse and I went for a long walk to see what critters had been out. Here's a Jackrabbit's tracks running down the lane. Very straight line.
You can just make out Jesse's nose in the bottom right, and you can see where he stopped tracking.
He's not a hunting dog.
He missed the rabbit barreling down the lane in front of him, sniffing the closest track rather than looking ahead.
By the time we got down the lane Jesse missed three large Jacks!
These are Jesse's tracks. Not very straight. Hmmm. Must be domesticated!
We hiked out back, past the Big Maple.
Suddenly, a deer bolted out of nowhere, over a fence and into the distance.
I couldn't get my camera out fast enough, but you can see the tracks where the deer ran from right to left.
Jesse missed it.
And after a nice long snow shoeing hike:
This is Opal Traumfanger (Dream Catcher)series, colour # 1237; 75% superwash wool/ 25% nylon; 425m/100g.
I worked with 2 100g balls that started at the same point in the pattern. This pair (sized Medium) isn't too bad for matching up. The other two pair I got don't match well at all. (You know, the knot thing.)
And these are Opal Siede (Silk), colour # 1356. 70% superwash wool 30% silk. 425m/100g. This yarn series has a real suede feel to it. The yardage is quite fine, yet the socks have a sturdier feel to them than many fingering weight yarns.
You were asking:
I've a few emails lately about sizing. As in, how many rows I knit in the foot.
I have my own set of sizes that I've developed through trial and error. They do not correspond to typical sizes I've seen on commercially produced socks - including socks I have manufactured with my own wool at a mill.
Most of the socks I make I call Medium, Medium+, Large and the terms are relative.
Generally speaking, and presuming ~10 rows/inch tension, I will knit 60 rows between heel and toe for a Medium, and 75 for a Large. I knit the Mediums on a 54 needle cylinder, and the Large on the 72. A Medium + is a 60 row foot, but the sock is done on the 72 instead of the 54 cylinder.
That works out to ~ Ladies 5.5 - 8 for Medium, or 8.5 if a narrow foot. And Ladies 9 (or 8.5 wide)up to Men's 11 for Large. The M+ is for cuspers, and typically for wider foot/leg folks in the mid-length foot group.
For XL I do 85 rows on the foot and that would be for a Men's 11 wide up to ~13.
And for that size 16 pair I made - I forget - I think it was thousands!
I perhaps should have worked to standard commercial sock sizes, but I've found the the recipe I use 'hits' more people dead on.
I also tweak the number of rows if the yarn is finer, or higher% wool, or, or, or. For instance, with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock I typically knit 5 rows less on the foot - the higher wool % gives more stretch, hence fewer rows are needed to fit the same size.
My advice: keep notes on the socks you make - how many rows you did and @ what tension setting and what yarn - and how they fit who wears them (and check the shoe size and width of the wearer). Over time you will build your own sizing system that works with your own tension preferences and your own sock beneficiaries ;o)
Thursday, January 24, 2008
There is a strange yellow ball in the sky today.
And it feels warm even though the thermometer says -10.
I don't think sheep and alpacas really smile, but it seems today they are, after many days of grey.
There is a snow drift hanging over the edge of the feed tank. The warmth of the sun will make this drift heavy, and it will ultimately fall off.
Problem is, I fill the pails with feed directly below this drift, and there is no other place to stand and still be able to fill the pails. I hope it falls off other than when I'm there! (Perspective is hard to tell in the photo - the tank is ~10 feet across and 30+ feet high.
This is Austermann Step, Colour #10. It is from the original Step series and was one of the fastest sellers. I managed to score two bags of it and have been metering it out ever since. Besides this Medium Pair I've started a Large Pair and then will have only 2 100g balls left of this one ;o(
Not that I'm running low on Step yarn.
The yarn is 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon. It is coated with Aloe Vera and Joboba Oil. Balls are 420 m/ 100g. The company maintains the oils will stay on the yarn for ~ 40 washes, as long as it is laundered without fabric softener.
I've heard one person say they didn't find it lasted. And others who say it does. I don't have a pair for myself (yet) so can't offer a first hand opinion.
I've also heard a few complaints of 'rats nests' in the balls, but I've wound dozens (and dozens) and have not had that experience.
I do have my standard complaint though, about the pattern being interrupted by knots, and at times the pattern actually changing direction at a knot. For those (of us) who like to match socks, this is very frustrating.
The yarn is very very soft, a real treat. In some measure due to the aloe vera and joboba I'm sure. AND it flows through the sock machine like butter - a VERY EASY knit. I rank it with Lorna's in that regard.
I do find I get a bit of a powder build up in the cylinder slots after working with Step for a number of pairs. Meaning the cylinder will want cleaning.
I finally got round to putting my new skein winder together. It only took a few minutes and the instructions were easily followed.
I plugged it in to make sure it works (it does) but I haven't wound any skeins yet....still focused on completing my Valentine Sock Collection.
E and Moe have formed a mother-daughter tag team and are now kicking some serious sock machine butt. Check it out!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Some of my sheep have been spending entirely too much time with Snappy (my pond turtle). This ewe thinks she needs to have her house attached.
This will mean more work skirting her fleece in the spring! Silly sheep!
Here's a yarn I haven't knit in quite a while. This is DGB Confetti, Colour 1003.
It is 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon; 210 m/50 g. It is of Italian manufacture and marketed by DGB out of Quebec.
I find the yarn a little finer than many - similar gauge to Lorna's and Anne.
The colours are nice and they have some good combinations, but I would describe them as flat, lacking the vibrancy found in many yarns.
I don't know this to be a fact, but I suspect it has to do with the breed of sheep whose wool went into the yarn. Merinos, Columbias (my breed) and other fine-r wool breeds seem to me to dye up with a lot more life than other breeds.
But not everyone likes electric colours and the Confetti yarns knit up well, wear well, and are quite inexpensive in the realm of yarn pricing.
And this is another Sonoko pair. Hand dyed by the Fleece Artist, with a yarn composition of 65% merino, 20% kid mohair, 10% nylon and 5% silk. And a much heavier gauge than the Confetti, coming in at 325m/115g.
This is my second pair of Sonoko, and I found the colours to behave similarly in both pairs - the second sock is in lighter tones than the first. I'm intrigued by this, and in both cases the pair of socks came from a single skein.
With a handpaint it is unusual (to me) for one part of the skein to be darker than the other. She must paint her yarns using a different method than I know of.
Any my Valentine collection would certainly be incomplete without a pair of socks from Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, colour Flamingo.
You may know that Lorna's donated a portion of their proceeds from the sale of each Flamingo colourway to breast cancer charities. In 2007 their donations topped $3000. Yay Lorna's.
And on it snows
It could be risking going into the barn today. The snow has drifted into some nasty overhangs. Simply opening the door may be enough to cause an avalanche.
Jesse better be careful!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
When it gets too snowy, or too cold, the best thing I can do is knit barefoot.
And if I'm going to knit barefoot, why not with some very yummy Apple Pie from Apple Laine. This is colourway Funny Girl. It has some pink in it, so it made the lineup for my Valentine collection.
50% wool, 20% Mohair, 20% Silk, 10% nylon. 174 m/ 50g
Think may be the most expensive yarn I have in my stash. Apple Laine is a small outfit in eastern Ontario and supplies only 4 retailers, including Pickup Sticks (and one other in Ontario and two in the US).
This yarn has a truly wonderful luxurious feel to it. It's recommended gauge is 7-8 stitches per inch, yet it's a heavier type feel than many fingering weight yarns. So particularly nice for times of year like this when a more substantial sock is de rigeur.
But why knit barefoot?
This is Rocky, working on the upstairs construction of the wool shack.
On the lower right of the photo you can see plastic tubing that was laid on the sub floor. And on the upper left you can just see the end of the chute from a concrete truck poking through one of the window openings (before the windows were installed.
Rocky is spreading the concrete around and troweling a finish on it.
When we're in the midst of a deep freeze I'm very thankful I had my wits about me when building the shack.
Heated floors make it fun to knit socks on a blustery winter day.
Monday, January 21, 2008
It's a good thing I didn't put away the snowshoes.
The farm is under a nice blanket of fresh snow.
(OK, maybe nice depends on your perspective... )
The still falling snow has been accompanied by deep freeze temperatures and gusting winds.
Even walking to the barn this morning my whiskers got caked with frosty snow.
And Jesse too.
Ah, well, we can both melt our whiskers in the kitchen by the fire.
And at the Sock Machine
I knit this pair of Medium sized socks on the 54 needle cylinder. The yarn is a new one for me: Seacoast Handpainted Yarns from New Hampshire. I bought it online at Pickup Sticks.
The yarn is 100% superwash merino. It's a little finer than many sock yarns, and even perhaps a little finer than Lorna's Shepherd Sock - I'd say fairly similar in weight to Schaefer Anne. Recommended gauge is 7 - 8 stitches per inch.
This colourway is Tequila Sunrise.
The yardage is very generous - the skeins are 560 yards. I weighed the skein before knitting and it came in at 114 grams. And how much did I have left after knitting the medium pair? 57 grams.
So this yarn is a very good deal for a hand paint as I will easily get two pair of socks from it.
I bought this in December on sale for $16.50, and I see it is still on sale.
Friday, January 18, 2008
This is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, colour Red Rover. Another addition to the Valentine sock collection.
These medium sized socks are make a nice and simply red sock without being totally uni-coloured. Just some subtle shading.
I actually got this colourway with intention to make some of my beaded socks, but the yarn and my red beads were definitely not meant to be companions. I'm looking for some different beads and we'll see what I come up with....
I think this colourway would make a nice lace sock too. Hmmmmm.
New from Lorna's
This is a new line of Organic yarn being introduced by Lorna's Laces (the photo is from their blog). They are calling it their Green Line and it will initially be available in DK and worsted weights and in the colours shown.
The wool originates from a certified organic farm in Argentina. It is shipped to Europe for processing in a certified organic mill, and thence to Lorna's for dyeing with natural dyes.
You all know how fond I am of Lorna's Laces. It's probably my favourite purchased yarn; my sock machines absolutely love knitting it; and the colours are fantastic, IMHO.
I have zero doubt that Lorna's has lofty intentions in offering an organic line.
Hello, that's an AWFUL lot of miles/fuel/carbon for wool to travel. I am personally hard pressed to consider a product organic if it has more frequent flyer miles on it than do I. Or Sting.
Meanwhile at the farm
This is the kind of day we're having in beautiful Grey County.
And why, you ask, are there fresh tire tracks on the driveway on such a blustery day?
Because I went here
to get my Snow and Ice tires that I ordered in November - and which finally came in - mounted on the truck.
Imagine my surprise to find that the rims they got do not fit my truck, even though their computer insists that they do. (I mean, why wouldn't a 5 nut rim fit on an 8 nut wheel?)
So, I asked for my money back.
Canadian Tire gives you coupon money when you pay cash for something. So when I paid for the tires in November I got $13. in funny money.
So - when they refunded my money they SUBTRACTED the face value of the coupons, since I hadn't brought them with me (???).
You can guess what pigs will be doing the next time I shop there!
I'll have to look for snow tires elsewhere.
Maybe its time to visit my LYS......
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Here is Regia Crazy Color, colour # 5402, in 50 g balls of 4 ply sock yarn @ ~ 200 m. Another selection from the back of the stash for my Valentine effort.
This is the first time I've knit with this colourway.Very valentinezy.
There is another colourway in this series that I nicknamed Candy Cane. I knit through bags and bags and bags of it, not knowing there were other yarns in the series. I found the #5402 at a different LYS, along with several other colourways in the series. (All waiting patiently in line to be knit.)
Box 2 of 2
Box 2 arrived. This is the motor drive for the skein winder. Now I have to put it all together. There is an optional foot pedal I ordered that hasn't come yet, but the unit will operate without it, using the dimmer switch control you can see on the motor housing.
And A Blast From the Past
This picture arrived courtesy of H from NM. This illustration (click for larger) shows the skein winder that came with his 1925 Gearhart Circular Sock Machine.
And meanwhile on the farm,
Jesse and I went for a walk down the lane yesterday. The ground is snow covered again, after the big melt down, but not so deep (yet) as to require snow shoes.
We saw some new activity by a Pileated Woodpecker on this dead wild pear tree.
There is lots of such activity on the farm, but in almost 20 years I've only actually seen the bird half a dozen times. They have a very large comfort circle and are usually long gone by the time you are in sight range.